Wine-Book Wednesdays: David Mack

I think most people in comics know David Mack for one of two things. Either they’ve never met him, in which case it’s his gorgeous painted art in books like Kabuki and Daredevil. Or, they have met him, in which case it’s the urge to try and bounce quarters off of his chest, which is forever encased in a form-fitting black t-shirt.

(What can I say? Really buff, attractive comic artists are rare. Ones as nice as David Mack, doubly so. And seriously, the number of men and women of all sexualities who have commented on his physique is pretty darn high.)

At any rate, David Mack’s Kabuki is his life work, and his paintings and mixed-media creations are jaw-dropping in their grace and minute details. And generally speaking, when you get a sketch from him it’s of one of the characters from Kabuki. So with that in mind, I remember being amazed that he went in an entirely different direction for the wine book. (Friends later commented that they’d never seen a non-Kabuki sketch from David Mack. I suspect these days he probably also draws his creation Echo from Daredevil, but you never know.) And while I love all of the pieces of art in my book, I will give the rare comment here that this is truly one of my favorites.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Pam Bliss

I don’t think one could come up with a definitive list of “the friendliest people in comics” because it would be fairly huge (it’s an industry full of great people), but if one tried, Pam Bliss would absolutely be somewhere near the top.

Pam Bliss’s mini-comics are usually full of children, dogs, and just about anyone else who’s full of joy. (I shudder to think of even the idea of a grim-and-gritty Pam Bliss comic. It just couldn’t happen!) At conventions, she’ll offer to draw a picture of your dog if you provide a picture, which just sums her up right there, really.

So with that in mind, I shouldn’t have been surprised that her contribution included a dog. But she was absolutely right in selecting just what the good things in life are, here.

(Re-)Finding My Inner Creative Side

One of the things I’ve really been trying to do this year is back into a rhythm of creating things. My reviews for Read About Comics the past couple of years have been infrequent at best, and it’s something with which I need to either get back up and going, or throw in the towel and call it a day. And after completing my 365pictures project in November, I’ve taken almost no photos since then.

But on the bright side, in mid-January I finally sat down and put my nose to the grindstone. I had some legitimate reasons a few years ago for the writing to have stopped, but now they’re just excuses. So my new attack was to write something, then throw out most later if you have to, but do it. And it’s worked pretty well. I’m a few weeks back into writing reviews regularly, and even better is that I’m trying to stay ahead of the game, keeping reviews “banked” one or two weeks ahead of schedule. So that way I have a little bit more breathing room if something does come up, and I don’t lose my momentum.

But looking at photography online the last day or two, I think I also really need to get back into the habit of taking the camera out again. I want to be able to take pictures that are as beautiful as this song by Patty Griffin. (Ignore strange fan visuals, just listen to the song.) It’s funny, there’s something about this song that just makes me think, “I need to craft photos that look like this sounds.” Does that make sense?

My big excuse there has been wanting a new camera, and while it’s tempting to use the (still theoretical) bribe from the government economic stimulus check to buy the SLR I’ve been looking at, it’s not terribly responsible. One thing I have been doing lately is keeping all the money from eBayed books and DVDs off to one side, with the idea being that it will be my vacation money to spend next month. So I think once that’s over, I’ll use the allure of a new camera to stay strong on getting rid of all the books that I really don’t want, and put the money there towards a camera.

(And hey, I just got paid to use one of my photos in a brochure in the UK. It’s not for a big company, and it’s not a huge payment, but it’s money! That was a nice surprise. And something else to focus on as incentive.)

Maybe in six months I can even start adding fiction-writing back onto the table, but for now, one step at a time.


I was going through my web stats for Read About Comics last night, and noticed that a lot—make that a ton—of people on MySpace are hotlinking to my images there.

Now I actually don’t mind the occasional hotlink here and there. But these are people who have gazillions of visits every day to their profile page. And in that case, come on, save the image and put it on your own webspace. (Or get some free display space like Photobucket.) So I did a little research, and eventually I figured out a way to just block specific websites from hotlinking. (I could have turned them all off entirely, but it would mess up people’s RSS feeds big time, and that just seemed like a bit of overkill.)

So for now, whenever anyone tries to link to my images on MySpace? They get this image instead. (Just in case you are at a particularly stodgy workplace, I won’t put the image there. But I promise, no nudity.)

What can I say? It makes me laugh. And really, I could have been much more evil than that. This is actually not that bad all things considered. (I rather like it.) In a month or so I’ll swap it out to just being a broken image link instead, but I figure this should get at least some people to delete the links first.

Of course, for about five hours today I’d messed it up bigtime so anything linked out of my personal account was getting swapped into this, which probably made for some very funny looking images I’d posted elsewhere… Oops!

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Matt Feazell

I often tell people that I can’t draw. Their response is, “Oh, come on, everyone can draw. You can draw stick figures, right?” But the sad reality is that thanks to Matt Feazell‘s brilliant stick-figures, I’m not even sure I can claim that.

It’s funny, because his art is deceptively simple looking, but he’s able to bring so much in the way of motion and life to his little figures that… well… I’d say it’s just not fair, but that’s certainly not the case. He’s just that good, that’s it pure and simple.

From now on, whenever anyone drinks, the sound-effect “Gla Gla Gla” needs to be used, incidentally.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Mike Norton

When I first met Mike Norton, he was about to take over the art for Sean McKeever’s The Waiting Place, a book that really launched both of their careers (and rightfully so) with its stories of teenagers in a midwestern town.

Since then, he’s drawn all sorts of books, from the creepy horror of Closer and the gigantic robots of Jason and the Argobots (both from Oni Press) to superheroes such as Gravity, Runaways, and currently the All-New Atom.

But back in 2001, it was still all about The Waiting Place, and that’s exactly what I got in my sketchbook. An aunt of mine unabashedly drinks Boone’s Farm wine (if one can really call it wine), and every time she triumphantly holds it up (there’s a vile-looking blue one in particular that she likes) I can’t help but think of this drawing, chuckling to myself.

Video Game Bonanza

My eyes hurt.

This weekend had more video games than I think I’ve played in a 48-hour period of time in, well, a very long time. Certainly not since college.

Saturday afternoon, in-between two Restaurant Week meals (a good lunch at Filomena, an ok dinner at Ardeo that gave both Charlie and I some bad stomach pains around 3am) I went home and on a whim jumped to the final level of Super Mario Galaxy and officially won the game. In some ways it wasn’t as epic a finale as I’d hoped, but on the other hand the fun of the game for me was always exploring the new galaxies that the game constantly throws at you, forever introducing new concepts and gameplay variants every time you turn around. I still have 46 stars to go in order to collect the full complement of 120, which makes me happy because it means I’ve still got a lot of fun ahead of me.

Then, today, my friend Rob had a video game get-together. The second Wiimote for my system is currently broken so instead I brought my old Dreamcast along. We played a bunch of Chu Chu Rocket, which can only be best described as a board game involving organized insanity. It involves mice and cats and rocket ships and ever-changing events and craziness. It looks really simple at first, but there was a lot of shrieking and screaming and laughing and cursing going on.

Last but not least, Alex broke out the Eye of Judgment, which crosses collectable card games and online computer games. I never, ever was into things like Magic: The Gathering, or Pokemon, or Yu-Gi-Oh. But you know what? This was really slick and clever and addictive. I was also amazingly impressed with how well the PlayStation 3 recognizes the cards based on its camera—it does so instantaneously, and with such finesse I just stared at it for a couple of minutes. It’s a neat, neat game. I am relieved I don’t own a PS3 because I would be awfully tempted otherwise to own this game. And I really, really, really don’t need another addiction. I can just see it becoming that.

Evil! Pure evil, that game. Or video games in general.

I think the rest of the week will be video game free. Maybe now I can watch the remaining 9 episodes of Journeyman still on my digital recorder?

Running Quandary

As some of you may have already figured out by now, I plan out my longer races in advance. Far in advance. And one thing I’ve been thinking about for a while now is tackling the Walt Disney World Marathon’s Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, in which you run the Half Marathon on Saturday and the full Marathon on Sunday.

Now obviously, were I to do such a thing I wouldn’t be going for a PR. Or even close. I’d be doing it for the experience and fun of it, and taking it slower. But it would be a neat thing to do, and my original thought was that I’d run it in January 2009.

However, this morning it hit me that doing so would make it my ninth full marathon. And perhaps a better idea might be to postpone it until January 2010 and make it the big 10th marathon extravaganza. (Before anyone gets any bright ideas: whatever I run this fall will be #8. I am not going to squeeze another marathon into 2008 so that I can make January 2009 the big 1-0.)

Of course, doing so means that I run the risk of not doing it at all, that perhaps by then I will have decided my time would be better spent doing things like playing Legend of Zelda and Trauma Center and Cooking Mama on the Wii. And I was looking forward to the idea of running it next January. But perhaps postponing would not be such a bad idea.

(Meanwhile, I still need to figure out a fall marathon. I’m probably going to try the NYC Marathon lottery again, but cannot count on that happening. And Julie and Laura have requested that we all run the same marathon this year, which makes NYC even more difficult. Philadelphia and Richmond are on the radar, so far. Hmmmmm.)

Decisions, decisions! Really, I should be worrying about the three races I’ve signed up for this spring (an 8K, a 10-miler, and a half-marathon) but that would be far too easy. Let’s not get silly, now.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Andy Bennett

Andy Bennett is an artist who really should be a superstar.

He did art for a bunch of books from Caliber Press, since moved on to draw some of the official Vampire: The Masquerade comics for Moonstone Books, and has done a lot of illustration work for a number of game publishers (including White Wolf’s Vampire sourcebooks). Every time I run across more art by Andy Bennett—which is unfortunately few and far between, it seems—I’m always pleased to see that someone out there is recognizing his brilliance. Hopefully the rest of the comics industry will catch up before long.

I do have to laugh in that sometimes people glance at this piece and think, “Oh, it’s just a girl drinking wine.” And others look a little closer and instantly realize that’s not quite it. It works either way, of course, but one has a little more bite to it. So to speak.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Steve Lieber

Steve Lieber is one of those artists who, I think, has drawn just about everything. He’s tackled Batman over in Detective Comics and a sequel to The Road to Perdition for DC Comics, and had a pretty hefty high-profile Civil War: Front Line mini-series at Marvel when their huge Civil War event was published. He’s drawn Grendel Tales for Dark Horse, and so many other projects I can’t keep listing them.

Oh yeah, and there’s this little book called Whiteout that he drew, of which the movie starring Kate Beckinsale has finished filming. I love Whiteout, with its tight and tense story from Greg Rucka and the gorgeous, atmospheric art from Steve Lieber. (I actually own all five pages of art that tell the historical prequel that kicks off Whiteout: Melt, in fact.) So I was delighted that Steve Lieber’s contribution featured Whiteout star Carrie Stetko, chilling (no pun intended) out in an igloo.

As an added bonus, I had to laugh at how he signed the art. Too, too funny.